|The Prodigal Son; The Four Winds
|This Week in the News
|Married or Single – Which Is the Ideal State?
|Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
The Prodigal Son; The Four Winds
On August 6, 2016, Rene Messier will present the sermonette, titled, “The Prodigal Son,” and Norbert Link will present the sermon, titled, “The Four Winds.”
The live services are available, over audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
by Dave Harris
World news is bad news—wars, disease epidemics, acts of violence, political turmoil–these are the kind of reports we read and hear about. It is the unavoidable reality of our time.
Added to this are countless conspiracy theories of alien invaders, poisonous chemtrails, secret ruling societies and a host of other troubling or suspiciously fabricated rumors about occurrences happening around the world. Separating truth from fiction is a daunting challenge.
Yet, there is a true message of real hope being given! It is identified in the Bible as the “gospel.” It is the same news Jesus Christ proclaimed as noted in Mark 1, verse 15, when He said, “‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’”
The word, gospel, is derived from a Greek transliteration, euaggelion, meaning “good news.” The Church of God has carried forward the preaching of the gospel. It is a message about God’s Kingdom being established on the earth. It forecasts the end of bad news and promises a time of unending peace, joy and eternal life:
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful’” (Revelation 21:1-5).
This good news has been written in advance to strengthen us, “upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Our challenge is to see through the darkness that now surrounds us and to continually look forward to the future God has promised:
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
The good news is that God’s Kingdom is coming—very soon!
We begin with foreboding steps toward a militarized Europe as both France and Germany implement a growing military role within their countries and even London is forced to respond by arming some of their police. Japan seizes headlines with appointment of a new defense chief with far-right sympathies, and Angela Merkel’s immigration policy threatens her premiership in Germany.
We report about the turmoil surrounding candidates Trump and Clinton; highlight Turkey’s contentious actions following the attempted coup; conclude with reports of more acceptance for gay lifestyle in the U.S. (In this context and to understand why the Bible condemns such actions, please see our recent sermon by Norbert Link: Why Will God Punish America?)
This Week in the News
France Fights “Islamism”
Express wrote on August 2:
“French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says the country is to shut down mosques, cut foreign funding and police the content delivered in sermons in a massive crackdown on Islamic fundamentalism… The comments come following the murder of 86-year-old French Catholic priest Father Jacques Hamel who was killed on the altar during morning mass last Tuesday and three separate massacres in the country in just over a year.
“In a newspaper interview Prime Minister Valls says the Republic has been forced to intervene to drive out the ‘poison’ of radical Islamism. And he has announced plans to shut down mosques supporting Salafism, an ultra-orthodox religious-political ideology based on a belief in ‘physical’ jihadism practised by some followers of the Sunni faith.
“He said: ‘All Salafists are not jihadists … but almost all are jihadist Salafists… The places of worship that house preachers will be closed systematically… France must become a European centre of excellence in the teaching of Islamic theology.’
“France is also considering legislation that will allow it to remove and expel dual national citizens.”
France to Establish a National Guard
Stratfor published on July 28:
“France will establish a national guard to help in the fight against terrorism, a statement from President Francois Hollande said July 28, France 24 and AFP reported. According to the statement, parliamentary consultations on the creation of the force — which will reportedly be made up of volunteers from the police, the security forces and the military — will take place in September. Hollande said he hoped the National Guard would be in place sometime in early fall. France has not had a national guard since the last iteration of the force was disbanded in 1872, but the country’s government is trying to reassure a nervous public that it is acting to counter the terrorist threat.”
Germany to Deploy Armed Soldiers in Germany
Daily Mail.com wrote on August 3:
“Germany is on the verge of smashing one of the last post-Nazi taboos by deploying armed soldiers on the streets in peacetime to combat terrorism.
“The Munich massacre has triggered a new security debate which includes stiffer gun laws and the use of troops in force…
“Keeping soldiers in their barracks has been a central tenet of postwar German domestic policy following the demise of Nazism.
“But after Friday’s slaughter – and an earlier incident where a refugee attacked passengers on a commuter train with an axe and a knife – the Bavarian interior minister Joachim Herrmann says soldiers must join in the anti-terror fight in the same way as they do in France.
“’We are facing extreme situations,’ said Herrmann. ‘We do not live in the time of the Weimar Republic now,’ he said referring to Germany’s post-WW1 experiment with democracy which failed spectacularly and led directly to the rise of the Nazis.
“He said that historical reservations about armed soldiers on the streets were no longer applicable, adding: ‘We are an absolutely stable democracy.’
“But he said the decision when and where to deploy the Bundeswehr (army) must rest solely with the police.
“He went on: ‘The Bundeswehr can be deployed under the leadership of the German states who are responsible for internal security to protect the citizens.’
“In tandem with this plan are new discussions in Berlin about tightening Germany’s already strict gun laws.”
Even London Adds Armed Patrols
Sky News reported on August 3:
“Increased numbers of armed officers are to mount patrols across London, including at major landmarks, in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Europe.
“Revealing plans for the heightened visible presence on the streets of the capital, Met Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said it would be ‘foolish to ignore’ the recent atrocities on the continent.
“The extra specialist officers were there to ‘confront terrorists’ and were ‘prepared to deal with the worst situations’, he insisted.
“But the main police union has warned that it could be two years before the promised extra firearms officers are operational.
“Police Federation of England and Wales chairman Steve White said the ‘best case scenario’ would be 24 months to get the additional 1,500 marksmen in place.
“With the terror threat level in the UK ranked as severe, Sir Bernard stressed the need for vigilance with an attack ‘highly likely’.
“He was speaking after warning that a terror attack in Britain was a case of ‘when, not if’.
“The extra armed police on patrol form the first wave of a move to increase the number of firearms officers in London by 600.”
Japan’s New Defense Minister
The Associated Press wrote on August 3:
“A woman who has downplayed Japan’s wartime actions and is known for far-right views was named defense minister in a Cabinet reshuffle Wednesday, a move that could unsettle Tokyo’s relations with Asian neighbors with bitter memories of its World War II-era atrocities.
“Tomomi Inada, a former reform minister who most recently was policy chief in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, replaced Gen Nakatani as defense minister. She is the second female to fill the post…
“A lawyer-turned-lawmaker with little experience in defense, Inada is one of Abe’s favorites. She regularly visits Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war dead including convicted war criminals, a gesture seen as an endorsement of Japan’s militaristic past.
“She also has defended Japan’s wartime atrocities, including forcing many Asian women into sexual servitude in military-run brothels, and has led a party committee to re-evaluate the judgment of war tribunals led by the victorious Allies.
“Her link to a notorious anti-Korea group was acknowledged by a court this year in a defamation case she lost. Inada also was seen posing with the leader of a neo-Nazi group in a 2011 photo that surfaced in the media in 2014.
“Inada, 57, is a supporter of Abe’s long-cherished hope to revise Japan’s Constitution. She has said parts of the war-renouncing Article 9 should be scrapped, arguing that they could be interpreted as banning Japan’s military.”
Merkel Must Go
Daily Mail wrote on July 31:
“Merkel’s premiership is hanging by a thread today as thousands gathered to call for her resignation while a key political ally dramatically withdrew his support over immigration policy.
“More than 5,000 protested in Berlin and thousands more throughout Germany over the ‘open-door’ policy that many have blamed for four brutal terrorist attacks that left 13 dead over the last month. The Chancellor faced a fresh wave of fury after it emerged that two recent terror attacks and a third killing were carried out by men who entered the country as refugees.
“Despite the massive waves of criticism, Merkel defended her policy this week, dramatically proclaiming ‘we can do it’ as she pledged not to let the violent acts guide political decisions. But now her key ally in Bavaria – which bore the brunt of the attacks – has launched a fresh attack on her leadership, distancing his party from Merkel and straining the coalition that keeps her in power.
“Horst Seehofer, the conservative premier of Bavaria, said he did not share Merkel’s ‘we can do it’ credo on accommodating the almost 1.1 million migrants and refugees who arrived in 2015. Seehofer, who leads the Christian Social Union, the sister party to Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, said today ‘”We can do this” – I cannot, with the best will, adopt this phrase as my own.’
“Speaking after a meeting with the Bavarian government in Tegernsee, he added that the solutions to date were ‘too inadequate.’ Stressing he had no wish to start a quarrel with Merkel’s party, Seehofer said it was important to look ‘reality’ in the face.
“A new survey found that 83 per cent of Germans see immigration as their nation’s biggest challenge – twice as many as a year ago. Recent attacks have fuelled the right-wing movement, which has long called for stricter immigration controls, particularly in Bavaria, where she faces heavy criticism from high-profile politicians…
“Jens Spahn, deputy finance minister and a senior member of Merkel’s conservatives, said that integrating the refugees was a Herculean task but the government needed to put more pressure on those new arrivals unwilling to make an effort to fit in. ‘A ban on the full body veil – that is the niqab and the burka – is overdue,’ he told daily Die Welt. ‘My impression is that we all underestimated a year ago what would come upon us with this big refugee and migration movement.’”
Trump: Accept Russia’s Annexation of Crimea
The Associated Press reported on July 31:
“Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is suggesting the U.S. accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea if it would lead to better relations with Moscow and stronger cooperation in fighting Islamic State militants. In an interview Sunday on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ Trump suggested that the people of Crimea would rather be part of Russia. That runs counter to the Obama administration, which imposed economic sanctions against Russia for annexing the territory in Ukraine two years ago.
“The United Nations doesn’t want countries to recognize Crimea as part of Russia, and some top Republicans are staunchly defending Crimea against what they say is Russian aggression.”
Embarrassing—Trump Tries to “Explain” His Comments
The Associated Press wrote on August 1:
“Donald Trump is trying to explain comments that suggested he wasn’t aware that Russian troops were in Ukraine. In an interview on ABC Sunday, Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin is ‘not going into Ukraine.’ He added ‘You can mark it down. You can put it down.’
“Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has backed pro-Russian separatists in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Western governments accuse Russia of sending troops and weapons to Ukraine, but Moscow denies that. Trump tweeted Monday that Putin is not going into Ukraine ‘if I am president. Already in Crimea!’
“In another tweet, he said that ‘with all of the Obama tough talk on Russia and the Ukraine, they have already taken Crimea and continue to push. That’s what I said!’”
Trump in Hot Water… Again
The Independent wrote on August 2:
“Mr Trump has become embroiled in another controversy after he was criticised by the parents of a slain Muslim-American soldier… Mr McCain, who has issued only a lukewarm endorsement of Mr Trump and is fighting a tough re-election battle for the Senate, said he could not ’emphasise enough how deeply I disagree with Mr Trump’s statement’. ‘While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us,’ Mr McCain said in a statement on Monday…
“The controversy surrounding Mr Trump and the Khans relates to an appearance by the couple last week at the Democratic National Convention. In one of the most keenly watched addresses, Mr Khan said the Republican presidential nominee had smeared Muslims while sacrificing nothing himself.
“Two days later, Mr Trump added fresh fuel to the issue when he appeared to suggest that Ms Khan had not spoken during the convention because she had been prohibited from doing so. He appeared to suggest this was because she was a Muslim woman.”
Hillary Clinton Slammed for Lying to Fox News
Newsmax wrote on August 1:
“Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has been severely criticized for her insistence on Fox News Sunday that FBI Director James Comey said her statements on her email scandal were truthful. The criticism against her is even more significant because it is being spearheaded by The Washington Post, which has made it clear that it prefers her to win the election over Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“When Fox News host Chris Wallace noted that Comey said her repeated claims that she never sent or received material marked classified using her personal email server were not true, Clinton said: ‘That’s not what I heard Director Comey say… [he] said that my answers were truthful and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.’
“The Washington Post gave Clinton four Pinocchios for that statement, its worst ranking for truthfulness in its Fact Checker… The newspaper also ripped Clinton apart for claiming that the information was not classified at the time. ‘As for retroactive classification of emails, Comey did say many emails were retroactively classified. But he also said that some emails were classified at the time — and Clinton and her aides should have been aware of that.’
“There were plenty of other public figures who also took Clinton to task for the statements. One such example was Sen. Ben Sasse, who posted on his Twitter account a repudiation of Clinton and gave a link to a YouTube posting that shows his address to the Senate in which he posted Clinton’s statements alongside those of Comey’s to illustrate that she lied about many features of the scandal.”
Harambe for President?
Dailycaller.com reported on August 1:
“A recent poll found that five percent of Americans would vote for Harambe as president if he ran as an independent candidate in the 2016 election.
“Conducted by Public Policy Polling in late July, the poll asked 1,276 likely voters about their various political stances, including their opinions on Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, and Harambe — the infamous gorilla who was shot and killed by a zooworker in May.
“Question 10 asked, ‘If the candidates for President were Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump, and independent Harambe, who would you vote for?’
“Forty eight percent of respondents said they would vote for Clinton, while 43 percent said they would vote for Trump. Four percent were conflicted by the daunting choice— they answered ‘not sure’ — and the final five percent opted for Harambe the gorilla.”
Pro-Erdogan Demonstration in Germany
Deutsche Welle wrote on July 31:
“Tens of thousands of people came to Cologne to attend a series of rallies in reaction to the recent coup attempt in Turkey…
“The abundance of images of Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party, which he founded in 2001, made it clear, however, that many of those gathered were there to cheer on the leader. Many protesters expressed disappointment, even indignation, at the fact that the Turkish president was not allowed to speak to the congregated crowd via video link. A court order issued the previous day had prevented Erdogan from taking part in this way.
“… there were even calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty in Turkey…
“Though those attending the rally also knew every word to the Turkish national anthem, which was played at the start of the events, fewer appeared to be able to competently recall the lyrics to the German national anthem, which followed immediately thereafter…
“Home to about 3 million Turks or people of Turkish descent, Germany has the biggest Turkish population outside of Turkey… A series of counterdemonstrations also filled the streets of Cologne during the day. The police said the scene at these smaller rallies bordered on ‘tense’ at times… Those supporting Erdogan’s cause echoed his sentiments in the streets of Cologne, while those who truly oppose him likely opted to stay at home.”
Germany Demonized in Turkey
The Local wrote on August 1:
“No European country is more important in relations with Turkey than Germany – home to the world’s largest Turkish diaspora – but in Turkish media Germany is currently being demonized. Whenever there is tension in relations between Ankara and Berlin, Turkish news editors love to fall back on the well-worn cliche of the Third Reich.
“A day after German authorities prohibited Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan from speaking to tens of thousands of his supporters in Cologne via video link, the reaction was the same. On Monday, Aksam newspaper went with a headline in all caps that read ‘Heil Merkel.’ Next to it was a picture of the Chancellor sporting a Hitler moustache and raising her right arm in a Nazi salute. The publication is one of those which studiously toe the line of Erdogan’s AKP party. Another is Yeni Akit, which went with the even more shrill ‘Germany is not our friend, it’s our enemy’ as its Monday headline…
“Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu threatened on Monday to cancel a controversial deal on refugees that Turkey signed with the EU in March if the EU didn’t offer Turkish citizens visa-free travel into Europe. That he chose to make this statement to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is not likely to be a coincidence – Ankara knows full well that Merkel was the main architect of the pact along with former Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who had subsequently been forced out if his post.
“Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel reacted angrily later on Monday saying ‘under no circumstance will Germany, or Europe, let itself be blackmailed.’
“Another weight on the taut string of bilateral relations is the decision of German parliamentarians to pass a resolution recognizing the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915-16 as genocide. When the resolution was put to a vote on June 2nd, Turkish media also did not hold back with the Nazi comparisons. The Turkish government meanwhile has completely ignored Germany’s ambassador ever since.
“The dispute over the demonstration in Cologne has shown just how low relations have sunk. One statement in particular in the build up to the Cologne rally made it clear just how bad things have become. The Cologne chief of police said that he had successfully managed to prevent Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu from attending the event in person… talking about the highest diplomat of a NATO ally…”
Breitbart added on July 31:
“Around 50,000 supporters of Turkey’s Islamist president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have rallied in Cologne, Germany to demand his authoritarian reign continues…
“The Islamist crowd chanted ‘Allah hu Akbar!’ and held signs reading, ‘Erdoğan is a human rights activist’, whilst opponents waved banners insisting ‘Stop the Erdomania!’ Members of the Turkish-nationalist, fascist-leaning ‘Grey Wolves’ group were among the crow…
“Some Germans reacted furiously to the huge Islamist rally in the country’s fourth largest city, and groups ranging from far-left ‘anti-fascists’, neo-Nazis and Kurdish separatists held counter-demonstrations. One angry Cologne resident was caught on video insulting the supporters of political Islam, calling them ‘crazy’ and ‘fascists’.”
Turkey’s Fight Against Christians
Express wrote on July 31:
“Turkey, which once boasted two million Christians, has barely 120,000 now, fewer even than Iran. But what shocked people most about July 15’s attacks was how much hatred still remains after almost 10 years.
“Though it is nominally a secular republic there can be little doubt that the government and Turkey’s 117,000 Sunni imams work together. Since the night of the failed coup, imams have been chanting the Selah prayer, usually reserved to announce a death, on a daily basis as a rally call.”
Joe Biden Officiates a Gay Wedding
The Associated Press wrote on August 2:
“Vice President Joe Biden has officiated a gay wedding, a first for the early proponent of same-sex marriage. Biden presided over the union of Joe Mahshie and Brian Mosteller, both longtime White House aides. The White House says the couple asked Biden to officiate. Biden has never officiated a wedding before, so he got a special temporary certification from the District of Columbia to make it legal…
“Biden publicly backed gay marriage in 2012 in the run-up to President Barack Obama’s re-election. The announcement put pressure on Obama to declare his own support shortly after.”
Navy to Name Ship After Gay Activist
The New York Times reported on July 29:
“In a sign of changing times for the American military, the Navy plans to name a ship for Harvey Milk, the gay rights leader and San Francisco supervisor who was assassinated in 1978.
“Ray Mabus, the secretary of the Navy, has notified Congress that he will name a fleet oiler for Mr. Milk, the first openly gay elected official in a major American city. The notice was reported by USNI News on Thursday and was confirmed Friday by a Navy official.
“The move comes five years after President Obama ended the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, a move that allowed gays, lesbians and bisexuals to serve openly. Last month, the Pentagon lifted restrictions on transgender people serving openly.
“Gay rights activists and friends of Mr. Milk in San Francisco were already celebrating the long-awaited news. In 2012, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling on Mr. Mabus to name a ship for Mr. Milk, who served in the Navy from 1951 to 1955.
“Mr. Milk has been the subject of books, movies, a postage stamp and an opera. He was played by Sean Penn in the 2008 movie ‘Milk,’ for which Mr. Penn won an Oscar for best actor. A 1984 documentary, ‘The Times of Harvey Milk,’ also won an Academy Award.”
Married or Single – Which Is the Ideal State?
If we search the Scriptures, we will find that depending on the circumstances, God endorses both being married and being single. Let us look briefly at what He has to say about each state.
In Genesis 2:18 we read: “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” In verses 21-24 we further read: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’”
And so, in the second chapter of the Bible, we see that marriage was instituted between a man and a woman. There is no other combination approved by God’s Word in spite of modern-day secular legislation.
In Unger’s Bible Dictionary under the heading “Marriage” – Origin (page 817), we read the following: “Marriage is a divine institution designed to form a permanent union between man and woman that they might be helpful to one another (Genesis 2:18). Moses presents it as the deepest corporeal and spiritual unity of man and woman, and monogamy as the form of marriage ordained by God (Genesis 2:24; cf Matthew 19:5). Without the marital tie, the inhabitants of this world would have been a mixed multitude. The family circle, family instruction, and parental love and care would have been altogether unknown.”
There are many instructions to “go forth and multiply,” and this was within the institution of marriage (see for example Genesis 9:1 to Noah and his sons after the flood; 9:7; 35:11; 47:27, etc). Population was needed after the flood, and the nation Israel would be raised up through whom the Saviour, Jesus Christ, would be born from the tribe of Judah (see Genesis 49:10).
We should also note the references to Christ and the Church. In Ephesians 5:22-33, instruction is given to both husbands and wives, and in verse 32 we read: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Revelation 19:7 sheds more light on this relationship: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife (the church) has made herself ready.”
In our booklet “Is That in the Bible? – The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation!,” a number of comments are made about this relationship, as follows:
“As we can see from Ephesians 5:31–32, Paul is addressing here the mystery of the relationship between Christ and His Church. He emphasizes that those who are called must come out of the ways of this world in order to be joined with Christ. Christ must be continuously living within them (1 John 2:15–17; Romans 12:2; Galatians 2:20). Paul also shows that the physical institution of marriage is pointing at a spiritual union between God and man. It is pointing at a spiritual marriage between Christ and His Church” (page 115)…
“Jesus spoke of Himself as the ‘bridegroom’ (Luke 5:34–35).When Jesus was on this earth, He taught that He would be taken away and that no ‘marriage’ would be consummated at that time.
“Note, as well, that Jesus gave a parable indicating that He, as the bridegroom, would return (compare Matthew 25:1–13). In this story, Jesus began His teaching with these very important words: ‘The kingdom of heaven shall be LIKENED to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom’ (Matthew 25:1).
“Jesus presented this example of bridegroom and virgins (that is, the bride) as a means of instructing His Church to be ready for His return. Most importantly, the Church was to remain vigilant and not let God’s Holy Spirit (the “oil” for their lamps) fade out of their lives! He would only marry those who were ready.
“John the Baptist also referred to Jesus as the bridegroom (compare John 3:29). In his statement, John attested to the fact that Jesus was the Christ, and that he (John) was in a position of service, as if he were the friend in a marriage ceremony. This is, of course, just an analogy, because John will be in the first resurrection and therefore part of the bride.
“In a deeply symbolic series of statements, Paul instructs married members of the Church to love their mates (compare Ephesians 5:22–33). He draws on the selfless example of Christ’s love for His Church to make his point. Then, he mentions a profound truth about marriage, calling it ‘a great mystery’ (verse 32).
“Why is it a mystery? Because it is a truth hidden in the plan of God—hidden to those not called by God! Yet, God’s Church understands this mystery: Jesus Christ will marry His Church (compare, especially, verses 25–27)! Note what Paul also stated in this regard: ‘For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ’ (2 Corinthians 11:2)” (pages 119-120)…
“The fact remains that Jesus Christ will marry His Church! We find this specifically promised in Revelation 19. Verse 7 states: ‘Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ Understand that the wife spoken of here is comprised of ALL of the saints—ALL of those counted WORTHY for the first resurrection. Christians who live just before Christ’s return, also must be prepared—just as the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 so clearly teaches.
“Carefully consider what is stated in Revelation 19:8: ‘And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is THE RIGHTEOUS ACTS of the saints.’ The focus for who will be in this wedding ceremony centers on those who are righteous—that is, those who obey God! Here we gain insight to the fact that Christ will marry those who live righteous lives—something only possible through having the help of God’s Holy Spirit!” (page 121)…
“Speaking to Israel of a future time—a time when God will establish His Kingdom on the earth: ‘“And it shall be, IN THAT DAY,’ Says the LORD, “That you will call Me ‘My Husband…’”’ (Hosea 2:16). Then, in verses 19–20, we find that God promises to join Israel to Himself in an unending marriage: ‘I WILL BETROTH YOU TO ME FOREVER; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the LORD.’ It is important to realize that God will ‘betroth’ Israel in the future—AFTER Christ’s return and the FIRST resurrection. This shows that the ‘bride’ cannot only include those in the first resurrection” (pages 121/122).
Does this mean that marriage is the only acceptable state to God? Does God’s command from ancient times “to go forth and multiply” still apply today for every human being? Is every Christian obligated to follow through on this ancient instruction? Many men and women today may prefer to stay single for all sorts of reasons. While many of those reasons might be based on selfishness and improper motives, Paul addresses some valid concerns starting in 1 Corinthians 7:25. This was written at a time of persecution of the church, but the principles still apply today. In verse 32, Paul writes: “He who is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord – how he may please the Lord.”
We read that Christ, when He was here on earth, was not married; and neither was John the Baptist. On the other hand, most of the apostles were married. As a Rabbi taught under Gamaliel, Paul (then known as Saul) seemed to have been married before his conversion, but some feel that his wife died. In any event, he was unmarried in his later life (1 Corinthians 7:8). He did not have the extra responsibilities, problems and stresses that can come with marriage and a family. He was able to devote his life to doing the Work of God. Had he been married, perhaps he might not have been so prolific in his writings and in his work of preaching the gospel? This does not mean that the apostles Peter and James—just to give a couple of examples—were in any way less productive because they were married. We read that Peter’s wife accompanied him on his travels and was undoubtedly a great help to him. However, Paul judged that in his case, it was better for him not to get married, while also emphasizing that it is not a sin to marry.
Jesus explained that some will not marry for several valid reasons, one of which is for the Kingdom of God’s sake (Matthew 19:10-12). As one observer remarked: “It is not a sin to remain single, even for your entire life. The most important thing in life is, not finding a mate and having children, but serving God.”
Of course, it would be physically impossible for everyone to be married anyway. Quoting from the “United Nations Statistics Division (in 2010)”, they state the following: “In today’s world, there are 57 million more men than women. This surplus of men is concentrated in the youngest age groups and steadily diminishes until it disappears at about age 50, thereafter becoming a surplus of women owing to their longer life expectancy. A surplus of men characterizes the world’s most populous countries – China and India – hence the large surplus of men worldwide. In most other countries, there are more women than men.”
The original question is, “Married or single – which is the ideal state?” And the answer is simple. It is that state which is best for the individual with neither necessarily better than the other. They both offer opportunities for the people of God Who wants all of His people to be happy, service-orientated and fulfilled, whether they are married or single.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Norbert and Johanna Link, accompanied by Margaret Adair along with Michael, Noelle and Mason Link, will visit the Oregon brethren this coming Sabbath—August 6, 2016.
“Die Vier Winde,” is the title of this coming Sabbath’s German sermon. Title in English: “The Four Winds.”
“Made for Man,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
What has God made for man and what has man taken for granted? God created everything and gave man a big responsibility to uphold His creation and man also had a big responsibility to keep God’s law, but man as a whole has failed to do so by giving into sin. There are many things which are a mystery to this world like the Sabbath, for example, as to how and why it is to be kept. Those of us who have been called out of this world need to make sure that we don’t take lightly what God expects of us, by obeying Him and keeping His day of rest holy, or we will miss out of His plan for us.
“Why Will God Punish America?,” the sermon from last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The Bible speaks in no uncertain terms about America’s future defeat in war, and it gives us many reasons as to why God is extremely angry with the USA, as well as other nations. We will see in this sermon why the ancient House of Israel went into captivity. We will also show that America, which is called modern Sodom in the Bible, commits the same sins today, without any real hope for repentance and change.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198
Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom